Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Research…It’s in the Details by Mindy Obenhaus

Today author Mindy Obenhaus shares how she researched one of her books in order to add those luscious little details that allow readers to feel like they're part of the story. -- Sandy


Mindy: Write what you know.

It’s a phrase writers often hear. And while it may sound simple, it’s not always possible. Like when I decided to set a series of books in Ouray, Colorado. I love Ouray and had spent a few vacations in the tiny town, but I live in a large city in Texas. The differences in these two places goes beyond topography to a completely different way of life.

People in Ouray have that pioneer spirit. Most are there because they fell in love with the town and wanted to call it home. For some, this means ditching corporate America, cashing in their 401K and starting their own business. For others it means holding three different jobs. Whatever it takes.

Though I would not have known this had I not spent time in Ouray. Not as a tourist, but as one genuinely wanting to know more about the uniqueness of this town. I built friendships with some of the locals. Friends I call, text and email to ask the strangest questions. Yes, it’s the minutia that drives me crazy. But it’s that same minutia that makes a story come to life.

In my upcoming release, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, my heroine is an avid ice climber. Ice climbing is popular is Ouray, but we rarely even see ice here in Texas. So, being a detail oriented person, guess what I had to do?

Yep, I went to Ouray and tried my hand at ice climbing. Did it help? You betcha. In talking with my guide, I realized she was as passionate about climbing as I am about writing. And, having taken part in the sport myself, I had a better idea of how my hero might feel when he was introduced to climbing.

Write what you know. Or, at least, know what you write. Details enhance a story. No, we don’t want to dump all the information we’ve gathered in order to show that we’ve done our research. That would be like opening a carton of salt and pouring it on a choice steak. But used sparingly, giving the reader the details they need as they need them brings out the natural flavor of our stories, making them better than we ever imagined. And, hopefully, bringing the reader back again and again.

What kind of personal experiences have you used in stories that helped you draw your reader in so they get a good feel for what your character is doing?

~~~~

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and two of her five children. Her debut novel, The Doctor’s Family Reunion, is a finalist in ACFW’s 2014 Carol Awards. When she’s not writing, Mindy enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her grandkids. 

11 comments:

  1. Ice climbing? Oy! You have my total admiration, Mindy. Drenches my palms just thinking about it.

    I LOVE the cover for RESCUING THE TEXAN'S HEART! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dora, it was definitely an experience. Muscles I didn't even know I had were sore.

      I love the cover, too. I thought Harlequin's art department did a beautiful job.

      Delete
  2. Lobbying in New York. I was a lobbyist there for Christian Coalition. I used my experiences there in one book well enough that people believed one part I made up. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ane, your experiences gave you the minutia to make that part of your story believable. We just never know what tidbits might come in useful and bring our stories to life. :)

      Delete
  3. Ice climbing, yowzers! How I love Ouray...hubs and I took a driving tirp throughout Colorado last fall and I am still in awe at the beauty of that state. We hit the aspen turning...heaven. And also got snow. I think you picked a great setting for your book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tanya, I have yet to make it to Ouray during the fall color, but it's at the top of my list. I bet it was gorgeous.

      Delete
  4. I'm impressed! I'd never make it as a climber now if I can write a story about a champion shoe shopper I'm in good shape.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Terri! Though I don't think I'd call myself a climber. I gave it a go, got the inside scoop, but I'd much rather shoe shop, too. :)

      Delete
  5. I don't think I'll be attempting ice climbing or anything else that might result in bodily harm. :)

    A number of years ago, I debated whether one of my characters should break or sprain her arm. After I broke my elbow, I had no problem deciding on a sprain. There was no way she could drive a great distance with a severe break.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan, there's definitely something to be said for life experience. And you just never know when it might show up in a book. :)

      Delete

We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!